Superbly told, with the poet’s gift for language and observation, this is Angelou’s autobiography (the first of five volumes) of her childhood in Arkansas – a world of which most Americans are ignorant.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings recounts Angelou’s childhood and early life. Sent to live with her grandmother in Arkansas, Angelou endured sorrow, tragedy, disappointment and, eventually, realization of self-worth. Descriptions of racial prejudice and her sexual assault resonate through the book and have long-reaching effects, but her strength and determination to overcome any set-back create an uplifting story for all.

Sited for sexually explicit content, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is one of the most frequently challenged and banned books in America.

Celebrate your freedom to read – do not take this precious democratic freedom for granted! Visit the American Library Association’s site on Banned Books Week for more information.

written by Tana

Be sure to stop by the library and see our display of Banned Books. You just might be surprised at some of the titles! Many are popular classics which you may have read in high school or college. If not, you may want to read them just to see what all the fuss was about! Here are a few of the titles:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Interestingly enough, the number one “most challenged book of 2007” was a children’s book, And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. It is based on a true story of two male penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo that adopt an abandoned penguin egg and care for it together until it hatches.

For more information about Banned Books Week, related events and a complete list of frequently banned books be sure to check out the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week information center.

Happy 234th Birthday to Johnny Appleseed! Of course, Johnny’s no longer around to celebrate with us, but his legacy of introducing apples to America, especially in the Ohio Valley region, continues.

Born in Massachusetts, Johnny Chapman spent his adult life wandering what was then just-settled frontier. The popular view of Johnny Appleseed is that he scattered apple seeds randomly wherever he walked when in fact he was an astute businessman. He established apple tree nurseries, hired local caretakers, then returned every year or two to check on them and collect his fees. Although he was known and loved for his kindness and caring (he would accept food or used clothing instead of cash, and gave away most of his belongings to people in need), his estate was worth millions when he died.

September is a great time to be thinking about apples – locally grown apples are now available at the Farmer’s Markets (Washington is the leading producer of apples in America but Iowa is no slouch when it comes to apples – the Red Delicious apple was discovered in Peru, Iowa in 1880; originally named “Hawkeye”, breeding for color and appearance has altered the original sweet flavor) There are also local orchards that offer retail and pick-your-own sales.

Put those apples to good use in applesauce, tarts and – of course – apple pie. Apple Pie Perfect by Ken Haedrich will provide you with an almost endless supply of apple dessert recipes and gives you excellent tips on creating the perfect crust. The massive Pie, also by Ken Haedrich, provides 300 recipes for all kinds of pies – fruit, berry, nut, ice cream. (And wouldn’t you love to be invited over to Ken’s house for supper?!)

Remember – “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. No one said it couldn’t be part of an apple pie!

Ed Begley Jr has been an enviromentalist since it was cool the first time in the late 1960’s. His wife Rachelle knew this about him when she married him, but she also likes style. As the review on the back of the book says “His environmentalism and her design savvy combine to create a guide to going green that keeps the chic in eco-chic”.

In Living Like Ed, Begley discusses how to make your life more efficient and environmentally friendly. In your home this can range from just changing the furnace filters, to using the new energy efficient appliances, to installing state of the art air filtration and purification systems. Begley discusses his transportation hierarchy – walking, biking, public transportation, and electric or hybrid car. His recycling ideas were good reminders to me. Begley makes it a point not to buy products if the recycle number on the product is not accepted for recycling in his area. He also discusses home energy including solar panels and home wind turbines. The book ends with an examination of food and clothes, which was enlightening too.

This fun, accessible book will have you “living like Ed” (to one degree or another) in no time!

One frigid winter morning in Spencer Iowa, Vicki Myron opened the public library’s book drop to discover an abandoned kitten. Starving and nearly frozen to death, Myron rescues the kitten and changes both of their lives forever.

Named Dewey Readmore Books, the kitten quickly settles into life at the library. Myron, who eventually becomes the director of Spencer Public Library, takes care of him and becomes his closest pal, but Dewey quickly makes friends with anyone that comes to the library, from the shyest child to the most preoccupied businessman. His story spreads far and wide – Japanese television made a documentary about him and his obituary ran in more than 200 newspapers when he died at age 19. Dewey: the Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World is Myron’s loving tribute to this charming and friendly cat, but it’s also the story of Spencer struggling through difficult economic times, and about Myron who faced several personal and health crisis’. It’s also a love letter to libraries and their place in a community.

Davenport Library had it’s own library cat many years ago, also named Dewey. A stray kitten that walked in the front door at the Annie Wittenmyer Branch (where the doors were often propped open because of lack of air conditioning), our Dewey made himself right at home. We kept him for almost two years, until we found him a forever home where he lived (and ruled) for the rest of his 14 years.

Escape is an amazing true story about a young woman who belonged to the fundamentalist polygamist sect of the Mormon church. Carolyn Jessop tells how at the age of 18 she was chosen to marry a 50 year old man with three existing wives.

The underlying question for me is what makes a woman have 8 children in 15 years and live in a house with 50 others (6 sister wives and 45 + children) but only one husband? Carolyn Jessop truly helps me understand (albeit not agree with) how her situation could possibly exist today – being a third generation in this “cult” as she calls it, is all she’s ever known.

After years of abuse from husband, sister wives and the sect in general, Carolyn secures a plan of escape with her 8 children ranging in ages from 15 yrs. to 18 months. This is the same FLDS controlled by Warren Jeffs that has recently been all over the news.

Her story is organized and told objectively. It also made for some awesome conversations!

In just under two months it will be over. You can a) duck and cover until the smoke clears, or b) eagerly watch how these races are unfolding.

But, you don’t need a network talking head to monitor the gallons of ink and glowing pixels expended on the elections until November 5th…you can check on them yourself in mere seconds.

Zogby and Pollster are impartial data-gatherers with simple and interactive maps refreshed every time new numbers come in.

When the fated day comes, the library receives many calls about where to go to cast a ballot. The answer is found by typing in your address on the Scott County Auditor’s site.

Here are the local contacts for the McCain and Obama Campaigns:

McCain Eastern Iowa Victory Office
1880 E. 54th Street
Davenport, IA 52807
Contact: Amanda Sebastian

Scott County Obama HQ
901 E. Kimberly St
Davenport, IA 52807

Today is, believe it or not, International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The purpose of the day is, simply, fun and silliness in the spirit of great pretend pirates (think Long John Silver in Treasure Island and Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean) To help you join in on the fun, here are some standard pirate phrases, suitable for most situations.

1. “Avast, me hearties!” Not sure what it means, but it sounds good.

2. “”Shiver me timbers!” When something surprises or frightens you.

3. “Ahoy!” Hello.

4. “Back, ye scurvy dogs!” Keeping the neighborhood dogs (or whatever) in place.

5. “Arr, matey, it be a fine day.” General pirate greeting.

Be sure to check out the ITLAPD website which has everything you could possibly need to know to celebrate the day including lesson plans for children, party ideas, pirate games and songs and much more. Pirate participants are encouraged to raise money for their favorite philanthropic causes such as Marie Curie Cure Cancer and Doctors Without Borders, so you can do some good while you’re having fun.

Now get out there and plunder some bounty!


A story of growing up and searching for one’s identity, Eddie’s Bastard by William Kowalski is bound to grab you from the first sentence and not let go until the end.

Abandoned on his grandfather’s doorstep with the note “Eddie’s Bastard” pinned to the basket, Billy Mann grows up without parents but surrounded by the love and family stories of his grandfather Thomas Mann. Living mostly in isolation on the decaying family homestead (Thomas lost the family fortune when he invested it in ostriches in the 1940s), Billy faces the ups and downs, tragedies and joys of growing up with humor and a positive outlook. There are lively subplots about the family curse, the identity of Billy’s mother, and the diary of Billy’s great-great-grandfather but the relationship between Thomas and Billy remains central to the story.

Beautifully written – you will feel as if you are part of the Mann family – Eddie’s Bastard is bittersweet yet surprisingly uplifting. This is one book you’ll wish would never end.

Who doesn’t love cake? Sweet, moist, delicious – a piece (or two) of cake makes the perfect final touch to a great meal – or a great late night snack! And a homemade, made-from-scratch cake? Divine. But not everyone has the time or skill for homemade cakes. If only we had our own personal bakery chef….

Warren Brown comes to the rescue with Cake Love, demonstrating the how and why of baking a cake (the best ingredients, the essential skills, the most useful pieces of equipment) and then provides lots of inspiration. Baking a cake from scratch isn’t really very difficult and can become a canvas for a lot of creativity. Brown encourages experimenting with flavors and techniques and to not get hung up on perfection – homemade cakes always get respect. Because, who doesn’t love cake?

As well as clearly illustrated instructions on baking techniques, Cake Love includes a wide range of recipes for all kinds of cakes from the familiar (Chocolate Pound Cake) to the innovative (Sassy, flavored with orange, mango and cayenne-pepper), frostings, glazes and fillings, and tips on how to assemble and decorate the finished cake. The cakes here are all about flavor and texture, not about being fancy, and are meant to be made with love and eaten with gusto.

Because, who doesn’t love cake?